Do you like nightmares?June 18, 2012
There must be people who like to read horror stories, because otherwise such stories would not be written and published. Edgar Allan Poe, H.P Lovecraft, Robert Bloch still have a huge following despite the fact, that they died many years ago.
There must be people who like horror movies, because otherwise such movies would not be produced. George Romero, Sam Raimi, James Whale, and of course Alfred Hitchcock came to fame and fortune by creating these kind of movies and and giving their fans the spine-chilling excitement they were apparently craving for.
Do you like horror stories, do you like nightmares? Do you enjoy films about zombies? I never watched a film about zombies despite the fact, that this is a very popular sub-genre of horror movies. I am not interested in zombies and I also don’t worry about them because there is no scientific evidence that the phenomenon of zombies exist. There is also no scientific evidence that aliens and UFOs exist. There is some evidence of evil conspiracies, but that is another story for another time.
I also don’t worry about doomsday scenarios of various kinds, even if they are derived from predictions based on solid scientific research. Worrying too much only makes sick. On the other hand, closing the eyes and disregarding reality also makes sick.
Disregarding warning signs, closing the eyes and neglecting reality can be indeed profoundly unhealthy, as anybody can confirm who was run over by a car after crossing the street without looking.
I never liked horror stories and I never ever watched a horror movie. Life is horrifying enough. I open my eyes and watch what happens. I envision the future, conclude, extrapolate, use common sense and logic.
I read many science fiction books in my youth, I assiduously and often repeatedly read the works of Georg Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and others. These men were visionaries and many of their predictions have come true, especially the ones in Orwell’s famous dystopian novel 1984. Do you remember: Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is knowledge. Weakness is strength.
At the moment I don’t have enough time to read books, I’m occupied with garden work and I prefer to spend my spare time strolling through the forest together with the cat family. But as I have the desire to be informed about the latest developments around the word I regularly check the news reports which are easily available via the internet.
There is more information available than at any time before and especially in the last years the flow of informations has been increasing steadily, it has become a flood, a deluge. I am informed, but not well informed, because the news reports are conflicting, the comments and analysis misleading, the conclusions most times illogical. All the myriads of information bits that are steadily poured over me paint a picture that is blurred and confusing.
I sift through the garbage and rubble of mainstream news outlets and read: “Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is knowledge. Weakness is strength.” No, it is not formulated exactly like this but language is creatively used and misused in similar ways. New formulations are created, grammatical rules are bent and tweaked, the meaning of words is changed and certain idioms, phrases, sayings, expressions are constantly repeated and at the same time redefined.
The news are made up of: Weasel words, technical jargon, euphemisms and dysphemisms, gobbledygook, deliberate word salad.
The news reports are not information but: Brain washing, indoctrination, propaganda, conditioning, psy-ops, re-education, mind control.
Journalists have great influence, yet journalists are not the masters of language, they are only the obedient servants of the masters of language who sit in the highest echelons of power, in the CEO offices of the big corporations, in the military headquarters, in the oval offices.
The Ministry of Truth is in total control, doublethink / doublespeak / euphemisms, mind control / brain washing / re-education, everything is working perfectly and exactly in the way Orwell has envisioned it.
Just get over it and accept it and be prepared for more — the most interesting things are yet to come.
Many of the predictions in science fiction literature have come true and many more predictions are on the way to become reality. I remember John Wyndham’s “The Day of the Triffids,” a post-apocalyptic novel about aggressive plants taking over the world. Wyndham’s story impressed and troubled me very much when I red it forty-eight years ago. The Triffids were giant mobile man-eating plants, and humans were helpless because most of them had been blinded by a cosmic firework.
Are we blinded?
Are we blinded by consumerism?
Are we blinded by the information firework?
The story about the Triffids troubled and frightened me despite the assumption, that apocalyptic scenarios like this were far away in the future and unlikely to happen in my lifetime. I’m not so sure anymore now that I will not witness an apocalyptic breakdown. I’m not so sure that I will not witness the end of the world as we have known it and partly enjoyed it.
I’m not even sure that the apocalypse is not already happening, it could easily be that humans are just pretending that everything is going its normal way and things will turn out fine in the end.
This is called: “the fallacy of normality.”
Am I troubled and frightened?
I don’t have time to read books at the moment but I compose science fiction stories in my mind nearly every day. Two weeks ago I woke up and remembered a vivid and disturbing dream. Disturbing enough that I instantly switched on the computer and wrote down everything what I could remember.
After I had written down about six thousand words I thought, that this story needs a title and considered various possibilities:
The flames keep burning
Front lines of survival
Until now I couldn’t make up my mind, so I leave the choice to the reader.
Disclaimer: The following text could be disturbing, upsetting, annoying. The following text could cause severe discomfort. Proceed at your own risk!
This is the story:
The experts who had told politicians and assured the public that spent fuel storages at nuclear power plants would withstand earthquakes, floods, catastrophic storms, terror attacks, sabotage by psychopathic plant workers, technical defects (inevitable after 40 and more years of operation), bombing by warplanes or ballistic missiles, were wrong.
Maybe they were lying, maybe they were delusional, it didn’t matter anymore. Several spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants had overheated after the cooling systems had been knocked out and the fuel rods had caught fire.
Over the years the fuel rods had piled up in deep pools inside the nuclear plants, as there was nowhere on earth a place to safely store the spent nuclear fuel and as it was too costly to transport the fuel to central depositories or reprocess it. New pools had to be built as the operations of the plants had been extended far beyond the initially planned working life. The new storage pools had been built hastily and shoddy because the safety standards had been weakened and the regulatory process had been hollowed out by colluding industry experts and politicians, all of them reckless and immoral individuals who were perfectly aware of the risks and who knew, that the situation was untenable.
The years before the fires had started burning were a time of crisis and looming catastrophes. Many environmental, social, economical indicators showed that the systems were heading for collapse and the individuals who had managed to elbow their way to the top had only one thing in mind: To accumulate as much wealth as fast as possible before the unavoidable crash.
They thought that their hastily accumulated wealth would shield them from any inconveniences that could evolve from the looming apocalypse and they thought that they could spend their riches in remote, gated, guarded, and heavily fortified communities unaffected by the turmoil, destruction, and chaos in the rest of the world.
As it came out later they were deadly wrong in that assumption.
Many of the spent fuel rod pools had been built hastily and shoddy and they were filled up beyond capacity. The cooling systems were aging, pipes were leaking, electrical contacts corroded, valves were stuck, engines worn out. The backup systems were not checked regularly because of cost reduction measures and many systems were not operational.
It only needed a minor incident to lit the fuse and in the chaos that ensued after the first fire broke out several other nuclear plants blow up, many reactors melted down and the spent fuel storages on the sites overheated and started to burn.
The nuclear materials since then had kept burning and the nuclear fires were burning now constantly for many years. There was so much nuclear material on the plants, that the fires were bigger than anything the planet had ever seen before.
The fires were unstoppable, there was no way to extinguish them. The authorities had used all available transport aircrafts to pour concrete on the burning nuclear fuel, they had used remote controlled trucks and bulldozers, even redirected creeks and rivers. Every attempt failed, the fuel burned through all covers and vaporized all cooling fluids.
Wide areas around the burning nuclear fuel storages were uninhabitable, the water supplies of whole regions were contaminated but worse than that, the background radiation on the whole planet was steadily increasing and had reached levels that threatened the existence of many species, including humans.
The northern hemisphere of the planet was most impacted, but the southern countries started to feel the devastating effects of radioactivity too as the contamination slowly migrated down south.
The USA, China, India, Russia, and most European, African, and Asian countries had seized to exist. There were only two major powers left, Argentina and South Africa. Both countries made frantic preparations for the time, when the full effects of radioactive contamination would reach them too. Their experts and administrators looked to the North and oriented policies and planning on the experiences of populations who had successful adapted to the changed environment.
The new nuclear world order
In the years after the nuclear fires started burning most nations disintegrated into smaller territories, controlled by military juntas, warlords, and crime cartels. The armies fell apart and units with allegiance to different generals fought against each other. Motorized army units went on conquests like the huns in the middle ages or Genghis Khan’s/Kublai Khan’s mongolian hordes.
Like the mongolian warriors the soldiers ransacked cities, towns, villages, hamlets. They raped all women and killed all men, they looted the warehouses, bombed and burned down factories, shopping malls, office buildings and residential buildings, big houses and small houses. They destroyed the infrastructure, the power plants and the power lines, the water supplies and the sewage treatment plants.
They disassembled machines and whole industrial production lines and took all material away that they could move to sell it on the black market. They left behind a waste land.
As there was no chain of command existing anymore, naval forces were on their own and the war ships became pirate ships. The sailors teamed up with well trained special forces and raided the super yachts and the island retreats of the super rich because there were big stockpiles of food and survival necessities to find. The billionaires ended as food for the sharks, their mistresses became sex-slaves.
Presidents and generals who had sought refuge in massive bunkers deep underground like Ramenki-43, The Shanghai Complex, or Cheyenne Mountain lived a bit longer than their unlucky billionaire friends but the underground facilities in the end were besieged by rogue generals who had managed to unite a few brigades under their command and wanted to get rid of the former leaders. The bunkers became tombs when the besiegers pumped nerve gas into the ventilation vents or blew up all entrances and ventilation outlets, causing people inside the bunker complexes to slowly suffocate.
The population was decimated not only by the increased radioactive contamination, by wars between territories, by marauding troops and roaming criminal gang, but also by a series of pandemics of ebola, anthrax, avian flu, and new emerging incurable sicknesses caused by drug resistant bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa.
Most hospitals had to be abandoned because all patients and most of the medical personal became infected with “super bugs” like MRSA, E. Coli, GRE, MSSA . The hospitals were sealed and cordoned off with corpses left rotting in the hospital beds. During severe outbreaks it happened that army units had to close off the hospitals and were ordered to shoot every one who wanted to leave the area. Sometimes the military was ordered to burn down the buildings and all patients and stuff inside with white phosphorus bombs.
Fortunately most of the nuclear weapons had been disassembled by sane and responsible guards and maintenance personal who ignored the repeated calls to activate them. Only Israel detonated a few of its nuclear warheads to wipe out the major Arabic cities Baghdad, Basra, Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Damascus, Aleppo, Amman, and Beirut. The Israeli nuclear strikes were a desperate and senseless act of revenge after a terrible anthrax epidemic killed most of the Jewish population.
Israel’s nuclear war didn’t prevent the Jewish society from falling into anarchy and the radioactive contamination from the atomic bombs was only minor compared to the contamination from the nuclear fires of the fuel road pools, but the mushroom clouds, the smoke and soot from the burning cities created a short nuclear winter which was counterbalancing and practically stopping global warming.
This did not mean that climate change was stopped, but the severe negative effects of atmospheric warming were significantly reduced and this fact together with diminished human population and consequently reduced human activity led to the recovery of some natural habitats and some plant and animal species.
Species with high reproduction rates and short generation cycles were doing fairly well. Weeds like dandelions, thistles, ivy, and all varieties of grass were thriving, birch trees and maple trees, bushes and shrubs like honeysuckle and barberry increased. Many plants changed at a molecular level to protect themselves against radiation.
Insects like spiders, flies, midges, wasps, beetles were also coping well, the population of various fish species and invertebrate animals like the bdelloid rotifers increased, while mammals and birds in general were heavily effected. Rodents and some bird species nevertheless could increase their populations because of high reproduction rates and recovering habitats.
Humans didn’t do well.
Warfare had stopped because all the ammunition was spent and no new supplies were produced. The jet fighters, drones, attack helicopters, tanks, and armored carriers had run out of fuel. There was no fuel production because the oil fields, oil platforms, pipelines, and refineries had been destroyed in the wars between opposing army units, militias, and crime syndicates. Groups of courageous and sane individuals had tried to seal the oil wells and had partly succeeded. Quite a few oil wells were still constantly spilling oil but this was a minor worry compared with the burning nuclear fuel rods.
The electricity grid was only partly destroyed and the communications infrastructure was mainly intact because of a tacit agreement of all warring parties to spare it.
Warfare had stopped not only because of dwindling supplies but also because the warriors had either died in the fighting or succumbed to radiation and to epidemic diseases. In the end there was nothing to fight for. There were no women to rape because all women had died, there were no men left to kill, there was nothing left to destroy and burn down. Most areas of North America, Africa (with the exception of South Africa), Central Asia, and South Asia were depopulated with only a few population pockets left here and there.
Living in a changed world
Because insects in general were fare more resilient against radiation than the birds, their natural predators, many insect species had disproportionally increased and deadly swarms of mosquitos, tse tse flies, horse-flies, and wasps descended on their human victims. In many areas the remaining humans had to wear full protective clothing similar to that used by beekeepers.
Blood sucking insects like fleas, ticks, mites, lice, and triatomines infested many living areas, making life unbearable and further decimating the human population by spreading deadly diseases.
Locusts, beetles, wasps, and flies destroyed agricultural crops and caused widespread famine.
As the insects mutated quickly they also became resistant against all known insecticides. In most cases the poisons used to fend off the pests did more harm to the humans than to the insects.
Many humans tried to migrate out of the worst affected areas but they were not welcomed by other populations and most surviving communities defended their areas vigorously and killed intruders without warning by whatever weapons they had left. But most migrants did not even reach other communities because in the vast empty areas between the population pockets remnants of militias, armies, and crime gangs were waiting for their prey.
The straying militia men, soldiers, and criminals survived by robbing the migrants and as food supplies became rare also started to butcher and eat their victims. Cannibalism became widespread. When the flood of migrants finally stopped because everybody had died, the assailants turned on each other till only the most ferocious individuals were left alive.
They were left alive but were slowly starving to death in the wilderness.
The number of remaining humans continued to decline rapidly because there were far too less healthy children born to replace the dying and it was only a matter of time till humans would have disappeared from wide areas of the planet.
The frontline communities
There were a few communities, mostly in the north of Russia, in Scandinavia, and in alpine areas, who survived despite the heavy radioactive contamination. They were called “frontline communities,” and their success or failure was closely watched from all over the world.
In the wake of repeated pandemics who significantly decimated the populations human behavior had changed dramatically. Travel and personal contact was avoided. Humans bunkered down in local communities and body contact was restricted to the family and a small circle of close friends.
Despite this newly developed cultural attitude of isolation and seclusion all remaining human communities constantly exchanged their experiences and helped each other with expertise and advice. This was possible because the main communication channels were intact, many satellites or fiber-optic submarine cables were still working, and advanced wireless technology allowed to contact even the most remote and isolated population pockets.
The frontline communities had between 2.000 and 200.000 members and were constituted of small hamlets, villages, and remaining neighborhoods on the outskirts of cities. Most cities were destroyed or depopulated but a few neighborhoods could manage to carry on by scavenging and using up supplies and materials fetched from warehouses in the abandoned areas.
The frontline communities survived despite the heavy radioactive contamination, but their social structures looked completely different from the social models of the past.
The following paragraphs will describe some of the measures the frontline communities had to take and some of the profound chances their societies had undergone.
The frontline society
The worlds population had fallen to about two billions and it continued to decline. The radiation caused genetic defects, a weakening of the immune system, and early cancers. Genetic defects resulted in stillborn or deformed babies, infertility, and chronic sicknesses. The weakened immune systems resulted in frequent outbreaks of epidemics.
As half of the babies were born with severe mutations and half of the remaining females either died of childhood cancer before reaching reproductive age or were infertile, every women who was able to reproduce needed to get eight children to replace the dying people and halt the population decline. This calculation doesn’t take into account that one fertile male is of course able to impregnate several fertile females but it gives an idea of the challenge the communities were facing.
Life expectancy had fallen to below 40 years, everybody above 30 was considered extremely lucky as she or he had not succumbed yet to cancer or to one of the rampant epidemics that flared up all the time.
Due to the lowered life expectancy the period for sexual reproduction was shorter and the replacement rate of eight children (of which only two would survive and be fertile) could only be reached by starting sexual activity at the earliest possible age. The education of both sexes and the family structures had to address this fact.
As it came out, that much more than half of the males were infertile (in fact the infertility rate was rather 60 to 70 percent), every girl who reached 14 could choose up to three partners to make sure that at least one of them were fertile. The girl was given an unoccupied and refurbished house, furnished and equipped with everything a family needs. She was the head of the family, owner of everything and responsible for all decisions.
There were enough empty houses from families who had died of cancer or epidemic diseases and people who lived nearby cared for these houses and kept them intact or even renovated and improved them till there was a new family moving in.
After giving birth to a deformed child the girl had to exchange the partner who was the father just in case the fathers genes were causing the genetic mutations.
Many girls exchanged all three partners after giving birth to a sick child not only to increase genetic diversity but also in many cases just to have a change. The wishes and the wellbeing of the girls and young women were paramount because only their ability to get as many children as possible guaranteed the survival of the frontline community.
Promiscuity was not allowed because of the danger of sexual transmitted diseases, fertile females and their partners had to undergo a blood test every six month. Boys and young men who had successfully fathered a child (a fact which was established by an obligatory DNA test) were allowed and even encouraged to serve in up to three additional families, preferably in ones who had not yet produced children. Such males had to undergo more rigorous blood testing, normally in two month cycles.
The newborn healthy children didn’t grow up with their mothers, because the mothers had to focus on reproduction. The children were breastfed up to two month and after that brought to foster parents, which usually were families of infertile individuals.
Foster parents could also be homosexual couples. Homosexuality was only allowed for persons who had been proven to be infertile. When a woman with 17 had not given birth or a man of this age had not fathered a child they were assumed to be infertile and they could choose whatever kind of partnership they wanted to have.
After giving birth to twelve children a woman was also allowed to life together with infertile or same sex partners.
Contraception was banned though this was not a matter of discussion. Everybody knew that the survival of the human race depended on high reproduction rates, calling for contraception was similar to calling for the extinction of humans.
As written before, human behavior had changed dramatically in the wake of several devastating pandemics and travel or personal contact was avoided. When people met they kept a distance of at least one meter and body contact was restricted to the family and a narrow circle of close friends.
School classes were small with just a handful of children sitting in spacious rooms or halls and many courses were taught electronically. The schools were closed every time an epidemic broke out and along with that all other public life was stopped. Infected families could not expect any help, they were left on their own and they died or survived on their own.
The only help provided in the case of epidemic outbreaks were packages of “suicide pills,” put on the doorsteps of infected families in case someone wanted to avoid the suffering of a slow death.
Despite the habit of keeping personal distance and avoiding body contact privacy was not a universally desired goal and most families had webcams in the main living areas which police and neighbors (and in some communities everybody else) were able to access at any time. The cameras made sure that instant help could be provided in case of accidents and deterred domestic violence or misbehavior of male partners. The webcams were also used for chatting and gossiping, watching the activities of young families was common entertainment in the evenings when people relaxed after a day of hard work.
Life was not providing much enjoyment in the new nuclear world so the remaining innocent and harmless pleasures were welcomed and tolerated and there was sympathy and understanding for watchers and actors alike.
Women, who felt threatened by their male partners could send secret codes via mobile phones and computers to alert police and trusted neighbors. The codes and in most cases even the existence of this warning system was not disclosed to males and only told in personal meetings of a neighborhood group of women with counselors. Such meetings were scheduled regularly to give women the chance to discuss their problems and find possible solutions.
Man who mistreated their partners were warned or removed from the family. Repeating offenders and men who had beaten their partners or deliberately had caused harm to them in some other way were put on trial and, if convicted, were eliminated.
All the described social practices had been universally accepted because everybody understood that the common good was paramount and the communities couldn’t bother with individual grievances and could not grant exceptions.
The frontline economy
It was also no matter of discussion that the communities had to avoid any waste and inefficiencies and that every member had to contribute to the common good as much as possible, as much as her or his talents allowed.
Most work was done by males older than 17, infertile females, and fertile females older than 26. There was no large scale industrial production anymore but the consumer society before the nuclear fires had produced enough stuff to support the dwindling human population for centuries to come. The main focus of work activity was small scale (subsistence) farming and gardening, maintaining and mending buildings, appliances, and crucial infrastructure, recycling, upcycling, scavenging and mining the gigantic landfills of the former consumerism society.
The frontline communities were under extreme strain and there was no possibility to provide social security or advanced healthcare. Everybody who was willing to work got work, there was enough to do on the fields, in the gardens or in the workshops and repair shops. The few individuals who were not willing to work for the community were left on their own.
Some communities chased this “lone wolf” individuals out of their areas, others ignored and isolated them, knowing well that without community support the “lone wolves” would soon die. When the isolated persons started stealing or became a threat to their neighbors they were detained, put on trial and usually eliminated.
There was no advanced healthcare, most communities had not the necessary means anymore to provide expensive surgeries, clinical chemotherapy, or palliative care. The most widely used medical drugs were pain killers and a special sedative, who was given to persons who wanted to end their life.
This sedative was also given to convicted criminals. As the communities had not the means for an expensive justice and prison system there were no prisons and the only possible punishment was death. Criminal cases were heard by elected juries with eight jurors, the convict was not told the verdict but the sedative was mixed into his next meal. The unconscious person was then put to death.
The security forces were only staffed by women, this was a concession the females of all ages together had achieved simply because of their overwhelming importance for the survival of the communities.
There were many examples of population pockets where women had not been held in high regard and quite to the contrary had been suppressed, raped and forced to give birth to one child after another but these societies had disintegrated, had ended in chaos and had disappeared.
The selection process among the population pockets in the highly contaminated areas was brutal, merciless, definitive, and the social structures of the remaining groups clearly proved that only societies based on cooperation, mutual respect, and equality could overcome the adversities of a radioactive contaminated life and that all societies based on competition and exploitation inevitably would fade away.
The frontline societies were without any exemption matriarchal, all important decisions were made by women, only women were allowed to bear arms.
The main weapons of the security forces in the frontline communities were firearms with non lethal ammunition, consisting of projectiles that contained a sedative gas. The projectiles had a very weak tip and did not penetrate skin but did burst on impact to set the gas free. The gas penetrated all gas mask filters and one projectile covered a range of about eight meters. It was inevitable that in many cases not only the criminals but also the policewomen were sedated, but as every fired shot automatically triggered a wireless emergency message to the next police station, support was always fast enough to reach the scene before the pursued criminals woke up again.
It has to be mentioned in this context that scientific knowledge had not been lost, it was available and accessible by everyone on the internet and it even increased constantly. The infrastructure of the internet and the necessary electricity generation mainly by hydroelectric power plants, solar cells and wind turbines was maintained from many hubs across the world by brave technicians and engineers who often sacrificed their lives by working for years in heavily contaminated areas until they fell sick and died.
Scientific knowledge increased because scientists, though fewer in numbers, were not hampered anymore by commercial and ideological constrains. Experts from all over the world collaborated via the internet and together developed new tools, new production techniques, and new organization models customized to the needs of the surviving human communities.
The ingenious physicist Albert Einstein, whose Theory of Relativity had greatly contributed to the development of nuclear technology, was very troubled by this fact and in 1946 wrote: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”
His prophecy unfortunately had come true but another one of his predictions had not been correct.
When Einstein said: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones,” he assumed that humans would lose all their scientific and technological knowledge. This was not the case, life for the remaining humans had become miserable and the human race was threatened with extinction, but science and technology nevertheless moved forward.
Computers and Robots were not significantly effected by radioactivity, highly sophisticated productions techniques made the manufacturing of items in small numbers and with the least possible use of energy and material possible. Close communication via internet allowed scientist from all over the world to participate in joint projects. There were no property rights and no industrial secrets, everyone was free to use the latest available technology to produce “state of the art” tools and equipment.
Back to the social organization of the mentioned frontline communities.
The jurors who heard and decided criminal cases — and consequently had to make the decision about life and death — were called “eliminators”. There was another group of “eliminators” working in the medical profession. The doctors and midwifes who inspected the newborn children had to check if the baby was normally developed and able to grow to a healthy child. This decision was made by three persons. A baby who was found to be unable to live on was sedated and eliminated.
The physicians were the third group of eliminators. They didn’t have to make decisions about life and death but they had to advice their clients and tell them about the options. The options were limited, they consisted basically of morphine to ease the pain and of euthanasia.
When the patient had decided to end her or his life she or he usually got very strong drugs which not only fought off the pain but also caused a feeling of calm and elation. The medication worked for a few days which was in many cases enough time to say goodbye to friends and family and settle all open matters. After a few days under this strong medication the patient became tired and disoriented, when this phase was reached it was time to visit the physician for the last step.
The patient got the sedative, the same which was also used for convicted criminals and deformed babies, and she or he fell asleep, usually while holding hands with her or his dearest family member or friend. The body was then carried away to a special room with the elimination machine.
There were also some individuals who preferred to take the already mentioned suicide pill to die alone or in the privacy of their homes but this was not encouraged because it was regarded as disorderly behavior and it caused unnecessary additional efforts of fetching and disposing the cadavers.
The communities had no means to conduct funeral ceremonies or keep up graveyards. The elimination machine of the physician was a modern version of a guillotine. It was compact and not bigger than a small sized washing machine. It also looked like one. The sedated person had to be undressed and wrapped into a plastic bag, after that the head was put into a hole in the front of the machine. Pressing a knob activated the machine which severed the head from the body and sealed the plastic bag in the same process, so that no blood was spilled.
It was a clean and efficient process. Elimination machines existed in three sizes, one for the babies, one for children till 14 and one for adults. It was common practice in all frontline communities around the world to bury the heads though the bodies were treated differently. Some communities had facilities for processing the bodies and converting the valuable organic materials to fertilizers, animal feed, glue, paint, and other compounds. Animal factories didn’t exist anymore and the surviving humans were mostly vegetarians out of pure necessity, but there were small scale dairy farms, sheep flocks, goats, and poultry flocks for egg production, all of which could use animal feed mixed in small amounts into the plant based food.
Elimination machines of appropriate sizes together with sedatives were also used for deadly sick domestic animals. The frontline communities considered animals as fellow creatures deserving the same rights as humans and consequently treated them in the best possible way to ensure their wellbeing and to avoid suffering.
As mentioned before, there was no personal travel and there was also not much trade between the surviving human communities. Traded were only high tech items (like computers, communication devices, customized production machinery, advanced farm equipment, the mentioned elimination machines, and the ammunition with sedative gas) which could not manufactured locally and had to be fetched from one of the few remaining factories.
Personal travel was avoided because of unjustifiable costs and because of raging epidemics, but the surviving communities around the world were constantly discussing their experiences and exchanging new findings and discoveries via the internet. This led over time to a unified social and cultural structure of the frontline communities.
The communities had abandoned all religious beliefs and traditions and were guided by a clear and lean set of just a few ethical principles and laws, which were written down on a few pages. The key principles were:
The survival of the community is paramount, personal ambitions have to be subordinated.
Social life is based on cooperation, competition is wasteful and destructive.
Only harmonic integration into nature plus a thrifty and efficient use of resources guarantees survival.
The suffering of all creatures has to be avoided or at least diminished.
To feel love and joy, to care and understand is the only sensible way to live.
As stated before, South Africa and Argentina were the biggest nations with a still functioning traditional society, economy, and culture. Political leaders, scholars, educators, artists in the two countries had followed the development of the frontline communities closely, and when the negative effects of increasing background radiation were becoming more and more noticeable also in the south of the globe, had started to remodel their societies slowly and carefully following the example of the frontline communities.
Both nations had their strong and distinct cultures and traditions. Both nations had withstood the onslaught by popular Anglo-American culture and had preserved their regional cultural identities.
Argentine culture was mainly influenced by European immigration but had incorporated indigenous and African elements. Argentine writers like Ricardo Güiraldes or Jorge Luis Borges had figured prominently in Latin American literature since the mid 19th century, the painters Benito Quinquela Martín and Juan Carlos Castagnino, the plastic artist León Ferrari, the sculptor Lola Mora and many others had produced outstanding artworks.
Argentine music (Milonga, Tango, Zamba, etc.) had inspired music lovers all over the world and musicians like Carlos Gardel, Mercedes Sosa, Eduardo Falu, and Astor Piazzolla had made essential contributions to world culture.
Across the ocean, in South Africa, the cultural landscape was also unique but more colorful and more multifarious. South Africa had been a melting pot of Western and African culture and with eleven official languages and a multitude of local indigenous traditions had probably the most diverse cultural environment of any nation. African art originated long before recorded history and had a mesmerizing, nearly mystic quality. African art was also an authentic documentation of human cultural development. African culture had always been meaningful and rich, and in South Africa the incorporation of Western elements had enriched the cultural scene even more.
The same could be said about South African music, which was an eclectic mix of the best attributes of Western classical music, Jazz, and African music traditions. Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masakela, Abdullah Ibrahim, vocal groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Soweto Gospel Choir had enchanted listeners all over the world. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, South Africa’s national anthem and often regarded as the anthem of the whole African continent, had brought tears into the eyes of countless listeners throughout the world.
There were well founded fears that the necessary chances and the adoption of social and cultural practices developed in frontline communities would contradict the national cultures of the two countries.
Yet despite the deep rooted social and cultural traditions of Argentina and South Africa and despite existing social tensions and injustices the redirection and remodeling to everybody’s astonishment did not meet much resistance and did not cause additional frictions.
The implementation of frontline ethics and frontline social practices even eased tensions.
The necessary seclusion of families was the hardest part, it was especially challenging for South Africa. Most other changes though were compatible with or had been even anticipated by existing art movements and social movements. Many changes were welcomed and the citizens experienced the changes as improvements and as liberation. It was like if a heavy burden had been taken away, a bad curse had been lifted, a clouded sky had been cleared for the sun to shine its warm light on everybody.
And the whole population of the two countries voiced this questions: Why didn’t we do this before? Why did it take a nuclear catastrophe to liberate us from the evil gods of money, fame, and power? Why did it take a nuclear catastrophe to heal us from hate, gloom, fear, egoism, envy, and greed?